Although lockdown of the industrial and transport sector and stay at home advisories to counter the COVID-19 pandemic have shown that the air quality has improved during this time, very little is known about the role of ambient air pollutants and meteorology in facilitating its transmission. This paper presents the findings from a study that was conducted to evaluate whether air quality index (AQI), three primary pollutants (PM2.5, PM10 and CO), Ground level ozone (O3) and three meteorological variables (temperature, relative humidity, wind speed) have promoted the COVID-19 transmission in five megacities of India. The results show significant correlation of PM2.5, PM10, CO, O3 concentrations, AQI and meteorological parameters with the confirmed cases and deaths during the lockdown period. Among the meteorological variables considered, temperature strongly correlated with the COVID-19 cases and deaths during the lockdown (r=0.54;0.25) and unlock period (r=0.66;0.25). Among the pollutants, ozone, and among the meteorological variables, temperature, explained the highest variability, up to 34% and 30% respectively, for COVID-19 confirmed cases and deaths. AQI was not a significant parameter for explaining the variations in confirmed and death cases. WS and RH could explain 10–11% and 4–6% variations of COVID-19 cases. A GLM model could explain 74% and 35% variability for confirmed cases and deaths during the lockdown and 66% and 19% variability during the unlock period. The results suggest that meteorological parameters may have promoted the COVID-19 incidences, especially the confirmed cases. Our findings may encourage future studies to explore more about the role of ambient air pollutants and meteorology on transmission of COVID-19 and similar infectious diseases. © 2021 Elsevier Inc.